The Microenterprise Loan Fund Scheme is managed by Micro Finance Ireland (MFI) on behalf of the Minister for Jobs Enterprise and Innovation. The focus of the scheme is around small and medium enterprises, to provide an avenue of lending for those who fail to meet the criteria that commercial banks require. Initially a business had to show they had been refused finance from the commercial bank, however recently this requirement has been removed and there are now also plans to introduce an automatic referral process if a loan application has been formally refused by a bank.
Working with Local Enterprise Offices, City and County Enterprise Boards, lending is available for small businesses comprising limited companies, partnerships or sole traders with a turnover not exceeding €2 million who employ less than 10 people. Applicants need to be based in Ireland, possess a valid PPS number and be tax compliant. Unsecured loans of between €2,000 and €25,000 are available, with 3-5 year terms and an interest rate in the region of 7.5%. Loans are available to start-ups as well as existing businesses.
The application process is straightforward: an application form is available on the MFI website (www.microfinanceireland.ie ) and the form must be accompanied by a business plan and certain financial information such as cash flow projections, summary profit and loss account and bank statements.
The fund is expected to create about 7,700 jobs with an estimated €90 million to be available over a ten year period. The loan application, approval and decline system is managed by MFI who are also charged with the loan book and recovery systems.